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RNLI

Holiday safety plea as Wales RNLI lifeguards rescue 1,603 kids last summer

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The RNLI and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard are calling for families in Wales to take care at the coast as the first week of the six-week break begins.

New figures released show that RNLI lifeguards in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Swansea, Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend and Denbighshire aided 888 children and 715 teenagers last year. They saved the lives of 12 children and teenagers between June – September.

Most of those offered help on the RNLI’s lifeguarded beaches in Wales were simply out enjoying a walk and not expecting to even get their feet wet.

A total of 270 teenagers (aged 12-18) were assisted whilst out enjoying a stroll as well as 207 children (aged 1-12). This figure is amongst the highest in the UK and Ireland, showing Wales is a hot spot for people becoming cut off by the tide and requiring help from the RNLI. Those rescued whilst walking is significantly higher than all other activities including paddling where 78 children and 84 teens were rescued, with 62 children and 31 teens assisted by lifeguards whilst playing on the coast.

Last year, those under the age of 18 requiring the RNLI’s assistance whilst swimming amounted to a total of 78 incidents. Bodyboarding is evidently a popular activity on the Welsh coast, with 64 incidents involving children last summer and teens involved in 25 incidents. RNLI lifeguards saved the lives of four bodyboarders under the ages of 12.

RNLI lifeguards rescue 1,603 kids last summer (Image: RNLI)

Now, with the fine weather predicted this weekend and the school holidays approaching, the charity and HM) Coastguard are calling for families to take care at the coast.

RNLI Water Safety Lead Chris Cousens said: “We see a big increase in the number of incidents in the sea involving children and teenagers during the school summer holidays and we would urge everyone – but families in particular – to be aware of the risks and know what to do in an emergency.

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“Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.

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“Children should be supervised at all times and people of all ages should avoid swimming alone.

‘We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.”

Summer Safety Advice

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

The RNLI and HM Coastguard have launched a new children’s tv advert to help reinforce the beach safety message.

(Lead image: RNLI/Eleri Roberts)

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Burry Port

Grandmother launches RNLI fundraising appeal almost a decade after Burry Port lifeboat crew’s attempts to rescue grandson

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An tragic incident at Llangennith almost a decade ago, where school boy Sam Capper tragically lost his life, has inspired a loving grandmother to put her best foot forward for the RNLI this Mayday, in tribute to the Burry Port RNLI volunteers who answered the call for help.

Leah Hunt, a police officer from Birkenhead, has officially launch this year’s Mayday Mile fundraiser by meeting her local RNLI crew at West Kirby for the first time, and revealing details of her own Mayday walking challenge on 22 May.

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The latest figures released today by the RNLI have revealed the number of lives saved by RNLI crews from Flint to Penarth has increased by 22 per cent in 2021. In Wales, volunteer lifeboat crews saved 45 lives in 2021 compared with 37 in 2020.

Leah says the figures released today serve a stark reminder of why the RNLI is such a vital charity.

She is calling on people to support Mayday and raise funds for crews, such as the Burry Port RNLI crew who helped to save her son Lewis, during an incident which tragically took the life of her youngest boy Sam.

Sam Capper, aged 15, from Rock Ferry died in hospital after falling into the sea when a wave hit him in Llangennith, Swansea, in 2012. His older brother Lewis, now 31, jumped in after Sam and held onto him before being rescued by an RAF rescue helicopter and Burry Port RNLI lifeboat.

To support Mayday, Leah will take part in the Wirral Coastal Walk on 22 May along with Lewis’ three children Archie, nine, Kael, seven and five year old Neala. All will be wearing yellow wellies as a tribute to RNLI crews across the UK and Ireland who are prepared to drop everything should the call for help comes.

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Leah says: “Before losing Sam, I now realise these people had never entered my mind, but were there for my family when I needed them most and to think that volunteers would risk their own safety for my family is just incredible and I am eternally grateful.

“This walk is certainly not about me, but about keeping Sam’s memory alive. On the 10th anniversary of his passing – it’s more important to me than ever to see his legacy live on in such a positive way. I would do anything for the RNLI and the walk is just one of the ways I want to say thank you. We regularly visit Burry Port and they have made us feel part of their family and I’m so grateful for that.

“Although the tragedy of losing Sam will never go away, they gave me back my son Lewis and I will be forever in their debt for that. I’m really looking forward to walking the Wirral Coastal Path for Mayday and will be chatting with my grandchildren about the uncle they never got to meet.”

WATCH: Leah Hunt talks about the death of her grandson, sam, the support that burry port lifeboat gave her at the time and why she’s supporting the rnli

The busiest station in Wales during 2021 was The Mumbles where lifeboats launched 95 times and assisted 143 people.

This is followed by Tenby where lifeboats launched 78 times and aided 36 people. It was the Porthcawl RNLI who saved the most lives during 2021, with 11 people still alive today thanks to the volunteer crew.

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Events are taking place across Wales to support the RNLI fundraiser whereby people are invited to walk, jog, hop or skip. The Mayday Mile which challenges you to cover at least one mile in any way you like between Saturday 1st and Tuesday 31st May, whilst raising vital funds for RNLI lifesavers so that they can continue to keep people safe at sea.

At Tenby, RNLI supporters are being invited to sign up to a virtual ramble and Penarth RNLI will also be hosting a sponsored walk on 1 May.

Crew and supporters of Porthcawl RNLI are calling on locals to join a walk on 1 May and chose either a five, 10 or 15KM challenges to raise funds.

Faye Maher, RNLI Engagement Lead for Wales says: “Last year was an exceptionally busy one for our crews across Wales, but our volunteers would not be able to continue saving lives without the generous support of the public.

“With the increased popularity of the Welsh coastline, we’re expecting a busy summer and are so grateful to all those who have answered our Mayday plea. It’s exciting to see details of all the events flowing in and I hope people enjoy taking part whilst raising much-needed funds to help us continue saving lives.”

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Lead image: Leah and her grandchildren with the West Kirby RNLI crew (Image: RNLI/David Edwards)

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Gower

Coastguard warning after emergency phone damaged in Three Cliffs hoax call

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Mumbles Coastguard have expressed their anger after a 999 emergency phone was damaged at a Gower beauty spot following a hoax call that saw dozens of emergency service personnel descend on the area.

The coastguard received a call from the Three Cliffs Bay emergency phone on Saturday evening (16 April) just before 5pm which was “abruptly cut off”.

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A second call was then made from a phone box in the area.

Describing the incident, a spokesperson from Mumbles Coastguard said: “The caller reported a person had fallen off a cliff in the area with a fatal outcome.

“On arrival the emergency phone was found damaged and out of service.

The damaged emergency phone (Image: Mumbles Coastguard)

“Several services were dispatched and a large search tasking undertaken with nothing found. With no further information or reports, this callout was assumed a hoax call and all assets stood down.

“This behaviour has cost thousands of both tax payer and volunteer funds as well has many hours of time on what has been an extremely busy bank holiday weekend (Mumbles 4th callout).”

“It has taken valuable resources away from important taskings, disrupted holiday makers, local businesses and the lives of our and our partner services families.”

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Rescue vessel at Three Cliffs Bay (Image: Mumbles RNLI)

The Coastguard reported emergency service workers from South Wales Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Oxwich Coastguard Rescue Team, Horton and Port Eynon RNLI, RNLI Lifeguards, HM Coastguard and first responders from Welsh Ambulance Service were all involved in the incident.

The coastguard added that the emergency phone at Three Cliffs is now out of service until repairs can be made by the operator.

The spokesperson added: “We’d like to thank all those involved with this callout and again express our extreme disappointment in this behaviour.”

(Lead image: Mumbles Coastguard)

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Pembrokeshire

High tides and cold sea temperatures spark RNLI Easter warning

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photo of man and woman holding a paddleboard

The RNLI has issued a warning for those visiting Wales’ coastline ahead of some of the highest tides of the year over the Easter weekend, which, historically, often see people cut off and requiring the charity’s help.

The charity is also reminding people that despite the temptation to have a dip, the sea is still incredibly cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.

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With an increase in people using the sea for activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding, the charity is also urging people to be mindful of offshore winds and the risk of being swept out to sea.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead for Wales says: “The good weather in March saw more people taking to the sea on stand up paddleboards and we expect to see the same once the schools break. Unfortunately volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews were called to a number of emergencies where paddleboarders were blown away from the safety of the shore by offshore winds and were unable to return without assistance.

“Avoid using stand up paddleboards when the wind is blowing from the land to the sea, always carry a means of calling for help and keep it on your person and in an emergency always stay with your paddleboard as it will help you stay afloat.”

RNLI lifeguards returned to their posts at some locations across Wales last weekend – including at Swansea’s Langland Bay, Caswell and Three Cliffs Bay, as well as Whitesands in Pembrokeshire. Daily safety patrols are provided by the charity’s lifeguards between the hours of 10am-6pm.

RNLI lifeguards (Image: RNLI)

In North Wales, the RNLI is calling on families to take their own safety seriously and be mindful of risks, especially during the forthcoming Spring tides, where the tidal movement is greater than usual. The biggest tides over the Easter period fall on Easter Sunday and Monday (17-18 April) the holiday is likely to see an increased number of people visiting the coast.

RNLI statistics for Wales show people getting cut off by the tide caused almost 10% of all RNLI lifeboat launches over the last decade – more than double the UK average. Lifeguards rescue hundreds more stranded people every year.

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Chris Cousens adds: “At this time of year the weather is usually starting to improve and there is a real temptation for families to enjoy a visit to the coast. We want people to enjoy their Easter and are therefore keen they take heed of important advice to ensure their trip is not memorable for all the wrong reasons. The Easter weekend, the higher than usual tides, coinciding with many families taking time out from work and school could potentially create an increase in call outs for our volunteers.

“The tide comes in and out twice in each 24 hour period, and while tide times can be accurately predicted, they vary at each location and change each day. A beach or coastal area may appear a safe place for a walk, but incoming tide can quickly leave you stranded. On bigger tides like those we will see over the weekend, places will be cut off by the tide quicker than normal and places usually unaffected by the tide may also get cut off.

“That’s why checking the weather and tides using a trusted online source, such as magicseaweed.com, the BBC Weather or a tidal prediction app before setting off on any trip is essential.”

The RNLI is urging anyone choosing to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice:

  • Wherever you are, check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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